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How to Negotiate Relocation Assistance

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From the big expenses like moving your stuff to the little things like connecting your new utilities, the costs of moving to a new place for a job can really add up. In the best-case scenario, your employer will cover all the costs with no questions asked -- but since the odds of that happening are not all that common, you may have to do some negotiating to get what you feel you deserve. Many employers are willing to help you with the costs, but it's up to you to determine what those are.

Research the New Location

To get a clear picture of what you can expect financially, contact realtors or property management professionals in the new area, who can help you sort out the ideal areas to live and advise you on ideal schools for the kids. Also, check out the classifieds and review rentals and homes for sale on a site like Craigslist. Get a few quotes from moving companies that will both pack and ship your stuff, and figure out the cost of renting your own moving truck, as well as the cost for gas and accommodations along the way. Further, research weekly hotel costs. Then make a list of the total expenses and tally the totals, factoring in cheaper versus more expensive transport and accommodation options to get a range of what it's going to cost you to move.

What to Ask For

Your research should have given you a ballpark figure of how much it will cost to move, but don't forget some other important expenses. According to Atlas Van Lines 2013 Corporate Relocation Survey, about half of employers are also willing to pay for the cancellation of your lease, temporary housing and home-finding trips before the move. If you own a home, the survey also reports that about half of companies will also cover the cost of your home sale or the cost of purchasing a home, as well as storage costs while you search. Whatever your situation, factor in these additional costs, as well as some padding for incidentals like connecting utilities, before you come up with a final cost range. Talk to colleagues or network with people on LinkedIn to find out what local competing firms might be offering for relocation reimbursement, since that could help you decide whether your new company is offering something competitive.

Company Policies

Draw up a document that states your projected moving costs and present it to your new employer. You will have researched a cost range, but present the higher end to the employer so you have some room for negotiating. If the employer is unwilling to budge and will only offer a flat amount -- or an amount that's far less than what it's really going to take you to move -- don't give up just yet. Let the employer know you really want the job but that you'll need a higher salary to compensate for the lack of an adequate relocation package, or ask for a salary advance to cover the costs. If that gets you nowhere, ask about company partnerships that might help you lower the costs of moving. For example, the employer might work directly with a moving company who offers lower rates, or it might offer a company apartment you can use while you search for housing.

Get the Terms in Writing

If the job is a low-paying one and no relocation expenses are expected from your new employer, it might be time to decide whether this new job is really worth it. If it still is, get the terms of the final negotiation in writing so you know exactly what to expect. Some companies will offer reimbursement of your expenses, while others will offer an up-front fee; be sure you're clear on which one you're getting so you don't have any surprises. Often, this is a document that employers will draw up as part of your employment contract, but don't feel rushed into signing it before you've had the chance to read it over carefully.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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